Here’s what to do if your dog is lost

Be logical about your search and there's no need to panic

If you live in Thornhill and your dog, who usually stays close, suddenly goes missing, suspect either a dognapper or a cougar.

Dogs left alone outside in a neighbourhood where most residents are gone during the day are at the mercy of unscrupulous thieves.

And any home backing on to undeveloped crown land with an active licensed trapline in the vicinity could lose a pet to a baited kill trap, the only kind of trap allowed. A trapper might or might not inform you if he found your dog dead in his trap. To do so might put him at risk of recriminations from an irate pet owner.

A missing pet is upsetting to any fond family. Shortly after I adopted a dog, the little fellow went missing from my fenced yard one spring forenoon.

I searched my yard calling his name, poked through tangled shrubbery down the back of my lot, asked a neighbour working in his driveway if he’d seen my dog, and walked a distance up and down the street. Nothing.

I began a repeat search by getting down on my knees for another look in his kennel. And there he was, nestled in the dark four feet back, taking a midmorning siesta.

Purina advises you not panic if your dog goes missing – easier said than done – but act fast. As with missing persons, the first 24 hours are crucial.

An outgoing dog may wander looking for other dogs or friends. So check with neighbours, give them your phone number.

Contact area dog pounds, police and veterinarians, leaving your phone number and a description of your pet.

Put up posters showing either a photo of your animal or at least one of its breed; state when and the general area where you last saw your dog. You may or may not choose to give your dog’s name; there are pros and cons for doing so.

Mention any reward but not the amount. Too small a reward and a finder may not bother calling you. Too large a reward might persuade a finder to sell your dog, especially if it is purebred and a rare breed, such as a Shiba Inu.

If your dog is wearing a collar with identification on it, or is microchipped, a finder should be able to contact you… if they choose to do the right thing.

In a recent case on Judge Judy, a small dog only a few months old strayed in his neighbourhood. A young man picked up the pup but despite knowing who the pup belonged to and where it lived, chose not to return it.

Months later he appeared in  Judge Judy’s court charged with dognapping. The judge turned the pup loose in court and let it go to whichever person it felt drawn to.

The pup went to the dognapper’s girlfriend who daily fed and played with him. The judge gave the man a choice between giving the dog back to the heartbroken ten-year-old or paying $2500. He chose to pay the $2500.

Cesar Milan on his website advises manning the phones to check with dog pounds and police. Use a second phone for outgoing calls so your home phone is free to accept any incoming calls.

Station someone at home to take calls and to be there if your dog returns by itself.

Post a Lost notice on or Craigslist and keep it current throughout the length of your search so it will be seen.

Posters on hydro poles need huge print to be read by passing traffic.

Two small dogs have gone missing in Thornhill, one in November from the Jackpine Flats area.

That could mean a dognapper is hard at work in the area.

But both a conservation officer and an outdoorsman confirmed today there have been cougar sightings in Thornhill, the latest in the south end of Jackpine Flats.

That could also be a reason for their disappearance.